Standard & Porch: Sleeping Arrangements is a rail disappointment.

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The latest premiere from Theater J—in a season that’s already featured the warm familial fuzzinesses of Spring Forward, Fall Back—is a quirky memory play capable of accelerating from zero to saccharine in 6.3 seconds. Laura Shaine Cunningham’s memoir Sleeping Arrangements, acclaimed for its honesty and humor in book form, turns out to be a tough sell in the theater, where readers don’t get to conjure their own mental images of the eccentric bachelor uncles who raise orphaned narrator Lily and the places their unlikely life takes them. Delia Taylor’s impressionistic staging works best when its grander gestures—a forbidding figure looming in projection, a vast gossamer curtain star-lit and snow-flecked on a desperately lonely night—highlight the gulf between the girl who aches to be normal and the adult author who wouldn’t trade her singular memories for anything. And Cunningham undoubtedly has a way with the lyrical line, the disenchanted phrase, the deftly turned one-liner. (You wouldn’t think it, but there are surprising laughs in “There was once a gefilte fish, insufficiently grated.”) Too often, though, events and eccentricities that probably seem entertainingly idiosyncratic on the page curdle into trite tweeness onstage: A y’all-dropping caricature of a Southern belle rampages insufferably through at one point, and Lily’s dotty drama queen of a grandmother, broadly played by Halo Wines, proves a particularly unbearable character. Naturally, Cunningham devotes much of the second act to her disruptive arrival in the household. A Catskills summer-camp sequence proves substantially livelier, involving as it does an atheist counselor with a particularly surly disposition; Taylor mines a bit of comedy, too, from Lily’s friendships with a bossy, hormonal neighbor girl and a ragged tomboy of a street urchin. And well-tuned performances by Susan Moses (incisively funny as a prim, nosy neighbor with hilarious, pinched diction) and Paul Morella (laconically droll as a secretive uncle whose whole life is an undisclosed location) help keep the evening from becoming a total snore. There’s a fatal flabbiness in the second act, though, and a “crisis” involving a stern teacher who threatens to send a social worker to inspect Lily’s unorthodox home life feels like an anticlimax. Will said gorgon be charmed by the crazy uncles? Will she sense the warmth that glows upon the oddball hearth? Do your teeth ache yet?